Saturday, 3 January 2009

New Year Dog's Breakfast

Bookings are now being taken for the President’s New Year Breakfast. At this annual bun & bible bash gullible punters pay to breakfast with the President of Tynwald (and any other politician sober enough to make it) while an inspirational speaker exhorts them to lead a good Christian life. Yes, the last three words don’t belong together, and yes, the entire event tends to be a bad joke.
Some years it’s quite hilarious. For example, you’d think someone would smell a rat when a recent speaker claimed to be doing Christian good works through a trust run from Monaco with a name almost (but not quite) like that of a well respected aid agency. I’d have expected his only audience to be the Manx Fraud Squad, but apparently folk not only paid to listen but stumped up for a cash collection divided between him and legitimate Manx faith-led charities. Again, the last four words don’t quite belong together, but at least some Manx charity details are listed on a government register.
I’m also amazed anyone pays to be in the same room as the Tynwald President, Noel Cringle. Of necessity I was in the room twice one year while he imitated a lay preacher in a backwater village chapel, and I’d have paid to get out. Officially he was there to formally launch a charity so I just escaped after the formalities and before I had to throw up.
We even had to rearrange the date and venue once because it clashed with his Rotary night. Perhaps that was where they pre-arranged the voting for the committee members.
This year’s speaker, amazingly, is legit. He’s George Reid, the SNP politician and former TV producer whose credits include the Michael Buerk story on the Ethiopia famine. For reasons best known to our dimwit politicos, they introduce him instead by his hobby, as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. It’s a purely honorary position, which means he spends a week sitting in for Her Maj at their annual fat-chewing session. I do hope the poor sod gets well paid for it.
This rings alarm bells, because El Presidente has form for using banquets paid for with public money to retard the separation of church and state. In December 2007, on the very day the Keys were supposed to debate the remaining clauses of a Constitution Bill which could have sidelined the Anglican Bishop, a motion came out of nowhere that the House rise without considering any business and slope off early to the President’s Christmas lunch instead. As the clauses weren’t complete, the Bill couldn’t finish in time.
No point paying to see Reid. If, as I suspect, the godbotherers in Tynwald are propagandising before a new version of the Bill starts the press report will have been pre-written, whatever Reid says on the day, and will appear on the government website very quickly after, as will a Manx Radio interview on their website (quite possibly pruned down to the ‘highlights’ by a former employee, now ‘retired’ and picking up pin money as a Member of Legislative Council).
Political and clerical business as usual in 2009 then.
Ho hum.

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